Your Complete Guide to National Interest Waivers and EB1 Green Cards

PERM Labor Certification for Doctors FAQ

Why should a physician pursue labor certification over a National Interest Waiver?

getty-1.jpgThe PERM process has the potential to allow the physician to obtain lawful permanent residence more expeditiously than the National Interest Waiver process. If a doctor requests a National Interest Waiver based on service in a medically underserved area or a VA facility, the doctor must complete the five year commitment in order to be approved for lawful permanent residence. Because PERM streamlined the labor certification process, the employer may be able to complete the recruitment process fairly quickly. As a result, the time that the employer spends satisfying the pre-filing requirements may potentially be shorter than the time that it may take to gather all of the necessary documentation to support a National Interest Waiver. Finally, the standards for completing the labor certification and obtaining approval for the I-140 petition based on the certified PERM application may be easier to satisfy than the requirements for a National Interest Waiver. Although an employer is not permitted to continue with a PERM application if a qualified U.S. worker is available and willing to accept job opportunity, an employer generally will not face this problem as employers usually find that U.S. workers are unavailable before they decide to hire foreign workers.
If I obtained a J1 waiver can I immediately apply for permanent residency?

If a doctor’s J1 waiver was granted based on a sponsorship by an Interested Government Agency or based on Conrad 30 (or State 30), the doctor must ensure that he or she completes his or her three year commitment to provide services in an underserved area. If this commitment is not fulfilled, the two-year home country residency requirement is reinstated, and the doctor will not be eligible for lawful permanent residence.

Do I have any other options other than PERM or a National Interest Waiver?

If the physician has exceptional or extraordinary ability in his field, he or she may consider submitting an I-140 petition seeking classification in the employment based first preference category as a foreign national of extraordinary ability or second preference category as a foreign national of exceptional ability. However, the immigration regulations provide particularly high standards for these classifications and the doctor and his or her prospective employer must be mindful of the documentation that will be required to establish eligibility for these classifications. The USCIS has in recent years scrutinized these petitions very heavily.

A doctor who is teaching at a University may potentially be sponsored by the educational institution. Under PERM, the University has the option of submitting a labor certification application pursuant to “special handling” requirements, which include recruitment procedures that are different from the regular procedures for recruitment of professional workers. An I-140 petition for outstanding researchers

When should I apply for PERM?

PERM applications can only be submitted by the employer. As a result, it is in the physician’s best interest to find an employer or coordinate with an existing employer to develop long term immigration strategies. Because of recent retrogression in certain employment based preference classifications, early filing of PERM applications is imperative for purposes of securing a priority date. By planning appropriately, the doctor will have more flexibility in the immigration process.

To learn more about how PERM affects you, contact our office at 415-986-6186 or at

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Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
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